BFI plan to boost UK film by 2017

Wallace and Gromit Aardman are best known for their Wallace and Gromit animated shorts

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Almost £500m is to be spent on the UK film industry over the next five years, focusing on investment outside London.

The sum, which will be used to boost film production, was revealed in a new five-year plan issued by the British Film Institute (BFI).

Money will also be spent on education and boosting audience choice.

BFI chairman Greg Dyke said a "pioneering" partnership with Bristol-based studio Aardman would "build the animation talent of tomorrow".

Established in 1972, Aardman created characters including Morph, best known for the Oscar-winning series of Wallace and Gromit films.

The BFI's plan, called Film Forever, sets out measures to help drive the growth of the film industry with a particular emphasis outside London.

It follows an 18-month consultation with 1,000 people including industry bodies, education providers and members of the public.

Money will also be spent on giving audiences outside London a more diverse choice of film, by putting cinema equipment into local community venues across the UK.

BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill said: "We are investing where we think we can most make a difference, where we see potential for creative excellence and where we can be the supportive catalyst for change, innovation, business growth and jobs."

The largest proportion of investment - £44.2m annually - will be made in "education, learning and audiences" between 2012 and 2017.

This includes a new partnership with Samsung for a TV application that aims to give audiences access to exclusive BFI content, including behind the scenes reports from the London Film Festival.

It is also working on the development of a BFI player that Ms Nevill hoped would be available by the end of 2013.

Youth academy

Part of the money spent on education will go towards a youth film academy, supported by Pinewood Studios and Bafta who will make their facilities available to successful applicants.

With additional funding from the Department for Education, young people aged between 16 and 19 who display a particular talent will benefit from events and masterclasses with industry professionals.

The BFI took over funding responsibilities after the UK Film Council was abolished last year.

It receives a large proportion of its income from the Lottery fund, which will increase from £44.7m this year to £60.1m by 2017.

The organisation aims to invest £32.3m in initiatives to support British film across development, production and skills.

The Film Fund, which puts money into production and development, will increase from £26m to £34m by 2017.

The BFI's third priority is a plan to digitise 10,000 films over the next five years to "bring our film heritage to new audiences".

It has committed £10m a year until 2017 to the BFI 10K project, will give audiences digital access to both British and international film titles.

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